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For Immediate Release

Contact:
May 07, 2013 Joseph Guzman, Western Michigan (616) 456-2438;
USMS Headquarters Public Affairs (202) 307-9065
U.S. Marshals Grand Rapids Fugitive Task Force Concludes
3-Year Operation Targeting Worst Sex Offenders

Grand Rapids, MI - Today the U.S. Marshals Service concluded Operation Guardian, a three-year,
national initiative specifically targeting the country's most dangerous noncompliant sex offenders. Deputy Marshals and law enforcement partners arrested 345 individuals who had failed to register with state authorities as required by law.

Marshals worked with state and local officials to identify specific non-registering fugitives based on their danger to the public and prior convictions for sex offenses. As of today, USMS investigators have located 427 offenders of 444 sought (or 96 percent of those targeted), including 82 individuals found outside the United States. These individuals represent more than 500 prior convictions for sexual offenses.

Deputy Marshals and law enforcement partners of the Grand Rapids Fugitive Task Force arrested 4 targeted non-compliant offenders in West Michigan during the initiative. The subjects targeted in Western Michigan were wanted for numerous violations including failing to register or maintain their registration as required by law.

"The United States Marshals Service will not tolerate noncompliant and violent sex offenders who evade the law. The message we send to these individuals is there is nowhere you can hide," said Director Stacia Hylton of the U.S. Marshals Service. "Operation Guardian enabled us to bring to bear the full weight of international, federal, state and local law enforcement resources and intelligence to locate the most egregious sex offenders-those who have victimized innocent children."

Nationally, the USMS has over 129 criminal investigators assigned to conduct sex offender, non­registrant investigations on a full-time basis. Operation Guardian was a collaborative effort led by the Marshals Service in cooperation with Interpol, the Diplomatic Security Service, Customs and Border Protection, state and local law enforcement, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Among those arrested during Operation Guardian were:

  • Towana Wortham, on Aug. 24, 2010, in Livingston, Texas. Wortham was wanted in Hillsdale County, Mich., for failure to register as a sex offender and for a new charge of Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st degree. His original offense occurred in 2003, when he sexually assaulted a 24-year old female. He was convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree and sentenced to 90 days in jail, 2 years of probation, and was required to register as a sex offender in the state of Michigan. After being accused of the sexual assault charges in 2010, Wortham moved and did not notify the Sheriff's Office or Michigan StatePolice. In August of 2010, investigators located and arrested Wortham in Livingston, Texas.
  • Jason Belin, on Sept. 8, 2010, in Saugatuck, Michigan. Belin was wanted in Kent County, Mich.,
    for failure to register as a sex offender and for violating conditions of his parole. His original
    offense occurred in 2003, and he was convicted of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual
    conduct involving sex penetration. He was sentenced to 120 months in custody, and was required to register as a sex offender in the state of Michigan. Sometime after September of 2009, Belin moved without notifying the Grand Rapids Police Department. In September of 2010, following a 6 month fugitive investigation, investigators located and arrested Belin in Saugatuck, Michigan.

Locally, U.S. Marshals Service led Task Forces in Western Michigan arrested 102 noncompliant sex
offenders in 2012. These arrests include offenders who violated state and federal failure to register
laws.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates more than 700,000 sex offenders reside in the U.S. and that more than 100,000 are classified as noncompliant or unregistered. Since its inception in 2006, the SOIB has planned and executed more than 900 sex offender compliance and enforcement operations. During these operations, the USMS partnered with more than 4,800 state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct more than 150,000 compliance checks.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

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